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Springerle anise cookies are a beautiful German tradition

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This wonderful little cookie which is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside has a delicate flavor of anise (or another flavor of extract, if desired). Known as springerle cookies or picture cookies, they are a work of art.

So many of our American traditions for Christmas come from Germany – the Christmas tree, Christmas cookies, gingerbread houses, etc. Springerle cookies are a German tradition from as far back as the 14th century. Usually baked at Christmas time, the secret of these lovely little cookies is the rolling pin used to impress designs on the dough. These rolling pins can be passed down from generation to generation in families and are works of art themselves. You can easily buy new ones, however, at nearly any kitchen store so you can start your own tradition of passing it down to others.

Springerle cookies are actually meant to be made ahead and aged. Depending on the source of information, some people age them for as much as two weeks in an airtight container. The cookies will harden over the aging time, but a day or two before eating them it is necessary to put an apple cut in half into the container. The apple will soften the cookies and add a wonderful taste to them.

Springerle Cookie Recipe

Ingredients for Springerle Cookies:

  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 4 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. anise extract (or another flavor extract – vanilla, orange, almond, etc.)

Directions for making Springerle Cookies:

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand-mixer), beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored – about 10 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat well. Add the lemon rind and mix in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together until well-blended the cake flour and the baking powder. Add ½ of the flour mixture and the extract of your choice to the egg mixture. Beat just until incorporated.

The dough will be very thick at this point so you will need to work in the rest of the flour mixture using your hands. Once the flour has been worked into the mixture, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to ½-inch thickness with a regular, floured rolling pin. Flour your springerle pin and roll over the surface of the dough pressing hard enough to imprint the design.

Using a knife, cut out the squares of the design and set the raw cookies on the cookie sheets in a single layer about ½-inch apart. Once all of dough has been used, set the cookie sheets aside overnight. This allows the raw cookies to dry, thus preserving the design and forming a crust on the outside.

In the morning, bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or just until set. The cookies will rise a little while baking (forming a “foot”). Cool the cookies thoroughly, then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. A day or two before eating them, put an apple cut in half into the container and close it. This will soften the cookies and add flavor to them. Enjoy the tradition!
(From my wonderful friend, Lynn, and her Mom)

Other delicious cookies:

Alfajores – tender butter cookies with dulce de leche in the middle – delicious!

Russian tea cakes – butter cookies with chocolate in the middle

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